The Economy, The Auction Market, And Heritage

DALLAS, TEXAS: In a letter sent via email to clients on Friday, Oct. 10, Heritage Auction Galleries reassured its consignors and buyers about the safety of the company’s business, the liquidity of its assets and the steady hand of its forward-thinking model.As the world markets have reeled, the principals of the company have been contacted by members of the press, the public and clients alike for a statement on how the financial sector problems are affecting the collectibles market. The full text of the letter follows:

We’ve been fielding a high volume of calls lately from potential consignors and buyers wondering how a tumultuous world economy is affecting the auction business in general, our business in particular, and their investments specifically. So we felt it appropriate to take a few moments to explain to you, our valued clients, exactly how we at Heritage are experiencing the current economic climate.

People are panicked in many corners — and rightly so — but not here at Heritage. We have weathered economic upheavals before, and for years we have planned for days like these. We’re now diversified across 26 categories. We’ve learned to see that uncertain economic times mean increased auction activity across the broad spectrum of our collectibles divisions by both buyers and sellers.

Collectibles, especially coins, remain extremely liquid. Over the last three months, as Wall Street has been reeling, our auction and private treaty sales have risen steadily. Every day people who are in businesses where capital is no longer readily available turn to us for liquidity. We offer cash advances to stem the tide of an emptying bank account, and a 30+ year record of paying every one of our 45,000 consignors in full and exactly on schedule. Never before have we had so many quality consignments in-house for upcoming auctions.

Conversely, our buyers continue to vie aggressively at auction for coins and collectibles they love, knowing that they are diversifying against inflation, and through that diversification, protecting their holdings of paper assets for the future. In fact, we cannot remember a time when our clientele has been more engaged, or when we’ve seen as many new and active buyers.

Our $35 million September 24-27 Long Beach Expo auction of coins and currency registered more bidders (over 14,000 of them!) than any auction in our history. Our Entertainment, Space Memorabilia, and Natural History auctions over the past 10 days were consistently strong events with above average sell-through and very happy consignors. And here are some hard and fast facts on Heritage weekly coin, currency, movie posters, comics and sports auctions for just the last quarter (i.e. the last 30 days versus the 30 day period starting four months ago):
*Our number of successful bidders is up by 11.5%.
*Our number of lots actually sold in each weekly auction is up 39.95%.
*Our average lot value is up 8.49%.
*Our total sales volume is up 43.34%

Heritage remains firmly rooted to a business model of transparency, honesty and fairness. We also believe in our consignors, our buyers and our expert staff. Economic struggles are like a Chinese finger trap: Panic and it tightens, but stay calm and it slips right off. Coins and currency may not garner the headlines, but our market has held steady, and risen in many areas, even throughout these difficult months. Coins in particular, and collectibles in general, are a wonderful hedge in a market like we’re seeing now. This we know from experience and study of history.

Rare coin prices, along with many other collectibles, actually rose during the Great Depression, as well as during the recession and accompanying real estate and stock market collapse of 1974. During the oil crisis of 1979, we saw coin prices rise dramatically, rewarding owners at a time when their stocks and many other assets were plummeting. Many of our clients saved their houses or businesses with funds from prudent coin investments made with us that we sold for them at auction in early 1980. And the 2 years following the 1987 stock market collapse saw rare coin prices more than double, on average (source: PCGS 3000 Index).

Collectibles markets are often counter-cyclical to widespread turmoil, meaning owners can actually profit when they need money the most. At worst, these categories are generally only minimally affected, in the short-term, by Wall Street’s wild fluctuations. And coins and collectibles have a steady record of bouncing back even if their value takes a hit.

If you wish to sell, Heritage will guide you through the process to achieve the best possible return on your investment, hard work and dedication. We can also work with you on 1031 exchanges to minimize taxes on your gains.

Fortunately, Heritage is prepared for whatever the future brings. We keep our focus and run our business not based on emotion but on sound business principles and our decades of experience in this industry. If you’re taking this journey of collecting, then rest assured, we’re right here with you. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be.

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